Unlike his last four starts, where he relied heavily on his curveball,안전놀이터 this time he went five innings with a cutter that helped him finish second in the National League Cy Young Award. That’s why “Vintage Ryu” Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, of the Toronto Blue Jays, was defended by local media in the United States and Canada despite taking the loss and drew praise from opposing batters.
Ryu started the Blue Jays’ 2023 Major League Baseball (ML) World Series game against the Oakland Athletics at Coliseum Stadium in Oakland, California, USA, on Sunday (July 7), throwing 77 pitches over five innings, allowing two runs on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
With his team trailing 1-2, reliever Trevor Richards gave up three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, sending Toronto to a 2-5 loss and leaving Hyun-jin with his second loss of the season. His season ERA rose from 2.48 to 2.65, and Toronto saw its three-game winning streak snapped, falling to 77-63 and unable to close the gap on the Texas Rangers in the American League wild-card race.
Since returning to the mound in August of this year, Ryu has garnered a lot of attention for his use of his curveball, which has helped him win three straight starts. Ryu has proven why he is known as “Vintage Ryu” by utilizing his fastball and changeup when he entered the majors in 2013, his cutter when he returned from Tommy John surgery on his shoulder in 2016, and his curveball as his deciding pitch when he returned from elbow ligament reconstruction (Tommy John surgery) last June.
He made one more case for being called Vintage Ryu. His opponent, Oakland, was a young team with only one player over the age of 30 in the starting lineup, catcher Carlos Perez, and four players under the age of 25. In addition, their two most productive hitters, Brent Rooker and Zack Gelbrecht, were significantly less able to handle breaking balls and off-speed pitches than their fastball counterparts, who batted over 30% against fastballs. Against Oakland, Ryu reduced his curveball rate to 14% and increased his cutter+four-seam fastball (fastball) rate to 57%, bringing a different mix of pitches to the table.
Pitching graphic from the top of the fifth inning between Toronto’s Hyun-Jin Ryu and Oakland’s Brent Rooker on Sunday. /Photo=MLB.com manure
Ryu Hyun-jin pitches against Oakland on Sunday. /AFPBBNews=News1
The A’s strategy of shutting down the big hitters worked. Aside from Rooker’s double in the fourth inning, they held the Oakland table-setters to a combined 1-for-6 with three strikeouts. He kept the game strictly changeup-heavy, throwing just seven fastballs out of 30 to Geloff and Rooker. He used a cutter, a curveball, and a pinpoint delivery to induce a swinging strikeout of Rooker in the fifth inning, but he didn’t waste any fastballs. In the first inning, he was sharp enough to get Rooker to ground into a double play with a fastball. Seven of the 10 swings and misses he induced from Oakland batters on the day were with his cutter, signaling the second coming of the 2019 version of Ryu.
The only blemishes were the back-to-back walks he gave up to Perez in the fourth inning and to Esteury Ruiz in the fifth. With two outs, he threw Perez a fastball low and across the strike zone that turned into a two-run arch toward the left field foul pole. It was a good hit by Perez, but it was not considered a hit.
After the game, Toronto manager John Schneider said, “Ryu was perfect early in the game. Even the home run to Perez was not a mistake,” and even Ryu defended his pitch, saying, “Even the (Perez) home run in the fourth inning, it went the way I wanted it to go. The pitch and everything else was fine overall.”
Ryu Hyun-jin (far left) reacts after giving up a two-run home run to Carlos Perez in the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday. /AFPBBNews=News1
Even the back-to-back stolen bases is understandable for one of the majors’ most dominant players. His sprint speed of 29.7 feet per second ranks in the top 3% of the majors. With 58 stolen bases this season, he leads the American League in stolen bases and is second in the majors.
For that reason, local media in the U.S. and Canada also criticized the offense, which managed just six hits and two runs against the lowly Oakland A’s. The Toronto Sun wrote, “Toronto went 2-5 against its worst team this season. Ryu lasted five innings in his eighth start. He wasn’t as sharp today as he has been in the past, but he had opportunities to go longer. I didn’t get much run support from my teammates,” said Ryu, who lamented the low scoring.
MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, also blamed the offense, saying, “Toronto had won Ryu’s previous five starts, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the two runs Perez gave up.”
It was Kevin Smith who drove in the game’s first run. Smith had an infield single and a grounder to shortstop in his previous at-bat, but after Ryu walked, he hit a triple to left-center field off Richards to give Oakland the lead for good. “There’s a reason Ryu has lasted so long (in the majors),” Smith told the Associated Press, “His changeup doesn’t overpower you, but he has the ability to throw it where he wants it. When he has a good day with that, it’s like the beginning of a long day for him.”